Conjoined twins Jadon and Anias were successfully separated after 16 hours of surgery at the Bronx’s Children’s Hospital in New York.
The twins’ mother Nicole McDonald announced on Facebook the results of the operation early on Friday, but she assured that her 13-month-old babies might have a long way to go until they can live a normal life.
“There was a point where Dr Goodrich debated stopping the whole procedure because it was just too risky but an opening presented itself and they went for it and it ended up being the right call. The boys ended up sharing a 5 x 7 cm area of brain tissue with no definite plane for dissection,” posted Nicole McDonald on Facebook.
Separating conjoined twins
The procedure was carried out by Dr. James Goodrich, a pediatric surgeon at the Montefiore Medical Center who has already completed seven separation surgeries. Jadon and Anias’ case became the 59th cranial separation surgery performed to date.
The surgery lasted up until 3 a.m. Dr. Goodrich managed to separate Jadon and then focused their attention on Anias. Anias had to suffer cuts on his dura, which led to abrupt drops in his blood pressure. Doctors predict that Anias will suffer from temporary paralysis the first days after the surgery, as his motor cortex resulted slightly damaged.
Jadon was able to leave the operating room around 7 a.m., his head covered in medical wrapping. His parents and older brother Aza saw him and sent him off to pediatric intensive care.
The mother commented that her babies will remain intubated for at least a week, but that she would also set up a donation page so she can afford the clinical expenses. Nicole had worked as a pediatric physical therapist, but she had to quit so she could take care of her conjoined twins.
On the other hand, Dr. Goodrich is known as one of the few experts in the separation of craniopagus twins. He performed his first surgery of the kind 12 years ago, and the separation of the McDonalds would be his seventh. 30 years ago, the rule would be that one of the twins would most likely die or suffer irreparable brain damage, but thanks to the development of the split-stage craniopagus surgery, both babies are now able to live after the procedure. Friday’s surgery would be the fourth and final stage in the McDonalds’ case.
Dr. Goodrich explained that the babies shared at least an inch-and-a-half in diameter of brain tissue. He had a replica of the babies’ heads and showed that the tissue is readily able to be operated upon. Before the surgery, the boys’ heads were outlined with black markers to show how the previous stages had proceeded on the babies.
The main issue is that both babies share lots of blood vessels, which makes bleeding the primordial concern for surgeons, apart from brain damage.
“The vessels are so delicate and they’re so complicated. It’s almost a lake of veins that they’re trying to negotiate. It’s pretty amazing,” stated Dr. Goodrich.